You probably had it your New Year’s resolution to read more. If yes, then the best time to start is now.
In this piece, we’ve compiled 5 books you can read.
They are the right balance of entertaining and insightful to get you reading more books after.
BORN A CIME. Stories From a South African Childhood
I learned heaps I didn’t already know about the South African Apartheid, race in SA, about the country’s history and impact on government even today. I learned of the different tribes amongst the indigenous black people of Africa and their associated languages (of which the author speaks many – clever man!). On top of that, Noah generously gives us a thorough tour of his life: from his earliest memories growing up in the township with his cousins and grandparents, living with his mother and abusive husband, and his adventures during school and college. What a life he’s lived! You will laugh and you will cry, you will be angry but you won’t regret purchasing a ticket for this emotional rollercoaster.
I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars and I recommend it to everyone over the age of 13.
2. Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It
It was definitely entertaining, humorous and eye-opening.
I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. My first recommendation of this book is attributed to the fact that it is an autobiographical account. There’s nothing like one telling his story. Secondly, there’s nothing like hearing one telling his story. I listened on Audible and I would say that if you’re going to consume this book, try to get the audio version. He shares parts of his story that will have you laughing with him and he shares uncomfortable parts that will have you sympathize with him.
I commend Charlamagne’s honesty where he shares instance in his life where he believes he made poor choices in his career however I greatly admire that he sees nothing as a setback. He chooses to be positive in every situation knowing that for every seemingly unfortunate situation, the laws of nature say that there is a huge opportunity here. Hence the title opportunity comes to those who create it.
3. Things Fall Apart
The story follows a man, Okonkwo, and chronicles his life in the pre-colonial years of the late 19th century in South-east Nigeria, up until the arrival of the Europeans and Christianity. Through his eyes, we are exposed to a culture untainted by the influences of the Western world.
What struck a chord with me; a certain familiarity was the sentence structure and use of proverbs. Having grown up watch Nigerian films of Igbo origin, and even by own culture as an Ashanti, Ghanaian, the use of proverbs is all too common. Reading them in the book as part of the everyday thinking pattern and speech of the characters was a pleasant and warming feeling.
What his book did for me, as British born, of Ghanaian origin, is that it allowed me to see first-hand what an Africa, wholly Africa independent of outside traditions, looked like. It showed me a family structure that is not what I have accepted to be the norm today. It gave me the opportunity to appreciate the way society was run, the way people worked together and did business. The way children related to their parents and other adults in the community. It highlighted the role of a wife and mother, the role of a husband and father.
4. After The Fire by Will Hill
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very good writing and a gripping story.
The protagonist of the story is 17-year-old Moonbeam who is recently rescued from a lifetime in the confines of a religious cult compound in a remote area of Texas. She recalls the events that took place there from the safety of a child protection unit.
Even though the eyes of Moonbeam, Hill gives insight into the thought processes of those caught up in the cult and how unsuspecting people can become so easily manipulated and brainwashed to go ahead with systems that nature would oppose. This reminds me of a famous psychology experiment called The Milgram Experiment (1963) in which participants were ordered to administer electric shocks at increasing voltages to others knowing that they would cause serious harm. The results showed shocking rates of obedience (65% people gave the highest voltage) which demonstrates that with authority people are highly likely to follow orders even to the point of killing a person. The experiment was developed to explore Nazi killings during WWII. You can read on this here and watch it here.
The themes explored in the book are leadership, family, polygamy, punishment, gun violence. It was a little slow to start but certainly well worth it a few chapters in. The story unfolds at a good pace having you always want to know, ‘what happened next?’
I highly recommend this book. I’m a pretty slow reader but was able to read it all in a couple of weeks – courtesy of a commute to work!
My rating is 4.5 stars.
5. Pimp: The Story Of My Life By Iceberg Slim
It is the life story of Iceberg Slim, a prominent pimp in Chicago in the middle of the 20th century. The story is full of shocking realities of pimp culture in America at this time and we see that this lifestyle is not mutually exclusive with drugs and the prison system.
There are so many themes to explore in this story, from family to colorism, the American judicial system, rehabilitation, and the economy, to name a few. It has a high shock factor as it details the ongoings on the life of a pimp and sometimes I was having to remind myself that this was not just fiction but was actually a real depiction of someone’s life. He lived this! It was his reality and this book was not written merely for entertainment purposes but was to share his truth. What surprised me the most was the violence involved.
What we notice through the protagonist’s story and the details of the lives of others who held his position in this underground industry, is that they lived very adverse, oftentimes traumatic childhoods. For instance, seeing a parent beat up mercilessly by one who was supposed to love them and even tortured and killed before their very eyes.
Slim’s story is one that is highly popular in hip hop culture, having been cited by rappers such as Nas, Jay Z, made into a film adaptation and comedian Dave Chappelle is known to hand out copies of this book out to those that come to watch his shows. He has said the Iceberg’s story goes some way to explain his 10-year hiatus from comedy on a public platform.
Overall, I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
The writer of this piece is Victoria Ankrah. Read more from her blog here